Florence’s rhythm follows the transit of the sun. In the morning, the city is a whisper. As the sun rises from the east, the light becomes brighter and the air warms up. The temperatures peak in the afternoon and peter out after sunset. On the weekends, the streets and piazzas overflow with people taking advantage of the cool summer nights. During my jaunts around Florence, I found solace in the sunsets, the gardens, and extended pauses in front of tabernacles.
To take a few moments to revel in Florence is a delight, and one that I cherish.
Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici — June 19, 2021An hour before sunset, I strolled down the lungarno toward Ponte Santa Trinita. After passing the Camera di Commercio and the Museo Galileo, I arrived at the Piazzale degli Uffizi. A street artist stood surrounded by examples of his work discussed the price of a portrait with two girls. I glimpsed the top of the Duomo peeking above David and the Fontana di Nettuno.
As my footsteps reverberated under the arches below the Uffizi Gallery, I first glanced at the Ponte Vecchio. The glistening water reflected the bridge and the neighboring buildings. Only a few days earlier, this road was so crowded that I returned home, unwilling to zigzag through the pedestrians. As the school year ends, many locals have already retreated to the seaside for summer vacation.
I stopped in the middle of Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici as the golden sunlight stretched under the archway. Couples ate dinner and sipped wine from a restaurant’s sidewalk tables. The server darted in and out of the restaurant, taking orders and delivering dishes. I hopped onto the walkway when a car clanked on the stone road toward me and a group of friends ducked out from under the Corridoio Vasariano.
The orange light illuminated my path and shimmered off the pavement, where lampposts captured the sunlight and radiated its sparkle. I reached Ponte Santa Trinita as the sun hovered above the Arno like a ball of fire. Its rays extended across the hazy sky and twinkled on the glossy water. After it tucked behind a layer of clouds, I sat on the warm limestone and faced east, enjoying the sun’s tender touch on my back.
Music from a guitarist playing on the Ponte Vecchio wafted in the sticky air. I inhaled the cool breeze that brought with it the balmy scent from the Arno.
Sunsets are not magical only because they paint the sky and river a multitude of colors. Sunsets are magical because they allow us to appreciate our lives. We can reflect on our day, release what wasn’t pleasurable, and savor the delightful moments. To savor a moment is how we savor life.
Ponte Santa Trinita — June 21, 2021After pausing on Lungarno Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, I stood on Ponte Santa Trinita to watch the sunset.
The fiery sun, centered above the Arno, captivated me. My eyes widened to admire the crisp reflection of the riverscape. As my breath deepened, my body welcomed the harmony. The smoothness of the clouds and the water embraced the city as the sun’s golden thread sealed them in a kiss.
Via Santa Monaca — June 23, 2021With Ponte alla Carraia behind me, I rushed down via dei Serragli. The clamor of speedy cars and motorini reverberated off the tall buildings. The tranquility of the Arno faded almost immediately. Its scent inexistent.
I didn’t stop at any of the glitzy shop windows before arriving at the traffic light. I chuckled at the bicycles chained together a few feet from me and leaned sideways to look at the tabernacle. Instead of making my way to Piazza Santo Spirito, I crossed via Santa Monaca and remained on the corner beside a photo booth. The air smelled of scorched stone that hadn’t touched water in weeks.
I could sense the Madonna’s eyes watching me as I perused the fresco. My heart softened when I noticed the child praying next to the illuminated electric candle.
During a lull in traffic, a wave of serenity enveloped me. One woman grinned at me as I waited for her to pass before lifting my iPhone to take a photo.
When I navigate my beloved city, I examine my surroundings by looking left and right, and up and down. I enjoy spotting details on the façades of buildings. Every time something grabs my attention, I pause to revel in it. As I slow down my breath and relax my body, beauty trickles into view and slides into my heart.
As I crossed the via dei Serragli, I looked back one last time at the tabernacle and smiled.
Giardino delle Rose — June 26, 2021A refreshing breeze swept my hair to one side and made my blouse flutter as I traversed Ponte alle Grazie. My eyes caressed the Ponte Vecchio while white billowy clouds staggered to the east, toward Piazzale Michelangiolo.
I let out a long sigh after entering the Giardino delle Rose. The scent of sun-drenched stones mixed with a hint of humid grass wafted in the air. As I marched through the overgrown grass, the weeds and tiny wildflowers grazed my ankles. A periwinkle butterfly danced around the rose bushes. Many wilting roses clung onto their star-shaped bases. Their petals—regardless of their color—became a light brown. A few birds sang sweet melodies from the tall trees.
I sat on a bench behind the fountain and faced Florence. A bright green gecko scaled the stone wall and slipped inside a crevice. A handful of tourists, speaking Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English, walked along the three paths, took photos of themselves from the terrace, and exited. Only one woman paused to sniff a bouquet of yellow roses, grazing her hip.
The sun played hide and seek with the clouds, casting shadows onto the buildings and churches. Sometimes the garden was bright and at other times it was dim. I welcomed the cool breeze as the sun warmed up my skin.
Buzzing bees prevented me from approaching the fountain. Standing at arm’s-length, I peered at the thick, waxy leaves obscuring the white and pink lotuses. Their splendor humbled me.
I stood up, almost dropping my water bottle, and scanned the view when Santa Croce’s bells sounded. The bright colors in the garden contrasted with the faded buildings and terracotta rooftops downtown.
Instead of sitting back down, I navigated the rose bushes by precisely placing each step on the lawn. A blackbird hopped past me, scrutinizing me every time he stopped.
I make a point of savoring every rose I photograph by admiring it from every angle, examining the color and texture of its petals, and sniffing its delightful fragrance. I especially love it when roses pay homage to Florence by embracing her with their love.
As I exited the Giardino delle Rose, I whispered, grazie.
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